Friday, April 29, 2011

Kaya- Coconut & Egg Jam

One of best food discoveries we found when we moved to Singapore was Kaya. Although its description of a coconut and egg jam is slightly off putting it probably should be called a curd not a jam. It is delicious spread on hot toast or, my favourite, in pancakes. It is rich and creamy and my prefered type is the green, pandan flavoured one. It is normally served on toast with big pats of butter along with half boiled eggs (you literally scare the eggs with some boiling water and crack the runny eggs into a bowl and season with soya sauce) and strong black coffee.

As we are preparing to move on from Singapore it has set us thinking about all the foods that we will miss, and there are many of them! Singapore has changed our tastebuds forever and as such I have been contemplating making some of the dishes that we normally only eat in hawker centres. That way when we are really missing a dish I should be able to create a tasty variation to ease the cravings. 

I had heard that making kaya was hardwork and time consuming but buoyed on by my recent success of making lemon and orange curd I decided to give it a go. On researching how to make kaya I found recipes using slow cookers and the jam setting on breadmakers and this sounds like the easiest way if you have either of these appliances. This one uses a bowl over a pan and only took around 20 mins to make. Unfortunately, the pictures do not do this dish justice having come out looking like not very appetising baby food!  

Vegetarian Beer Battered 'Fish' & Chips

With the Royal Wedding putting the UK into the spotlight as well as a reminder of our recent trip to New Zealand where fish and chips is a considered a national dish I thought I would have a go at a vegetarian version of this traditional dish. I used slices of Halloumi cheese as an alternative to fish although you could use tofu instead as a vegan/dairy free alternative and use vegan mayo for the aioli. I made halloumi fish for me and beer battered snapper for my OH so if you can eat fish feel free to use this recipe with any chunky white fish. You can also make a gluten free batter with sparkling water or a gluten free beer and substitute plain flour for a gluten free one. I have included variations of the recipe in italics next to the recipe where the recipe need changing to accommodate gluten free 

I served this dish with simple sweet potato chips, herby peas and lemon aioli -yummy. Just makes sure you leave enough space for this filling dish!

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I am posting two recipes here. One is your classic crunchy sugar topped light sponge made with wheat flour and the other is a gluten free lemon drizzle cake with an interesting ingredient. The wheat sponge is a slightly adapted version of Mary Berry's lemon drizzle from her book Ultimate Cakes which is an excellent book if you want to start baking classic teatime cakes. You can buy the book from Amazon or most book stores seem to stock her as she is such a prolific writer not to mention domestic godess. If I ever want to bake a cake I look up her recipe first.

The gluten free recipe comes from BBC GoodFood and despite having mashed potatoes in it makes a really wonderful cake. It is dense and moist and could be served as a dessert. If you prefer to follow the recipe on the bbc the link is here although in my recipe I use more lemons as a prefer a zestier cake. The photos here are of the wheat flour lemon cake but the link has an accurate photo of what the gluten free cake looks like. My advice with this cake is to not tell people what the unusual ingredient is until after they have tasted it.

Both of these recipes make a pretty lemony cake so reduce the lemon juice in the drizzle if you prefer a less zesty cake.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wasabi Potato & Egg Salad

Wasabi seems to be one of those love it or hate it ingredients. I love it with sushi, on wasabi peas or my favourite, spread thinly on a grilled/toasted cheese sandwich. I love a mustard kick and horseradish sauce fizzy nose and wasabi to me is just the Japanese version of these yummy condiments. However, I cannot think of horseradish without my mind wandering to the episode of Jackass in Japan where they snort a line of wasabi. Waaahh, it makes my nose want to bleed just thinking about it. 

Anyway back to the post. Make this as an alternative to your normal egg and potato salad, it is perfect for the bbq, with a slice of quiche or with marinated teriyaki salmon.You could also make this more substantial with the addition of bacon or cubed ripe avocado. If you are making this for coeliacs then check your wasabi paste is not bulked out with flour and is actually gluten free.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vegetarian Thai Coconut Soup

As I mentioned in a previous post we recently went on a Thai cooking evening in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. It was really entertaining and I recommend it to anyone in the area. It is not at all overwhelming even for the beginner cook like J. If you fancy it then I recommend Siam Rice Thai Cookery School. With activities such as cooking, rock climbing at crazy horse and being an elephant owner for the day, Chiang Mai is not a holiday that we will forget quickly!

This recipe is corrupted version of the one we learnt on our course with more veggies and no meat or tofu. You could add 50g thinly sliced raw chicken or tofu if you like at the same time as veggies. I have recommended the use of salt or tamari as an alternative to fish sauce but if you can eat fish then use that instead. The tamari will darken your soup so salt or more stock powder is the answer if you are entertaining and want this to look nice. 

Our dishes at the cookery school

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Mummys' Day Gluten Free Jam Thumbprints

Yesterday it was Mothers Day in the UK and I am sure there were lots of kids bringing their deserving mummys breakfast in bed. This set me to thinking about the importance of families in teaching children invaluable life lessons such as cooking. I was always encouraged to help with the cooking at home and this is one life skill that continues to served me well. My mum cooked with me from an early age and has instilled a love of all things foodie. Even if the memories of my mum making Ellie Ice Cream named after the Jersey cow next door are very faint I know that these formative years of being fed yummy, fresh food has had an impact on my palate even today. A recipe that sticks in my mind is Jam Thumbprints, a buttery jam filled biscuit that even small children can help to make even if it is only to help make the thumbprint middles. This is one recipe that my mum made with me as a small child and as a small gesture to my lovely mum who is across the other side of the world I thought I would try to make a gluten free version of this simple but delightful little biscuit. Love you Mum!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Orange & Cardamon Polenta cake

I miss smile inducing mediteranean and middle eastern food with simple flavours that pack a punch. Don't get me wrong, Singapore has an amazing variety of food and a diversity of ingredients that isn't always avaliable in the UK but sometimes I just fancy something different. Couple this with a few perfectly ripe oranges soon to be a squashy fuzzy mess and I found myself looking for a orange polenta cake recipe. This cake really does brighten up overcast days with its cheerful golden insides. It is gluten free and makes a moist dense cake that really can be served as warm as a pudding or cold as a cake. Its texture is a little bit different with a crust that has a bit of crunch.

Vietnamese Style Rice Paper Rolls

At the end of March we headed up to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand for an activity packed weekend away. One of the great things we did was a thai cooking class. I will try to reproduce some of the dishes in the near future but this recipe is not one of them. Why then, you are wondering, don't I get to the point of how this relates to this recipe. Well we made spring rolls which were delicious and very easy to make but they are something I had never got around to making as I thought they would be really fiddly - but great news is they aren't and they taste great. So although my spring rolls were rather deformed I thought I would try another recipe that requires careful wrapping - the spring rolls' healthy sibling - the rice paper roll. It is stuff full of crisp cool veggies, low in fat and requires little cooking which is perfect for those days when you really don't want to stand in front of the stove.

Now that the stickier humid weather is back with us in Singapore (not that is ever very cool here) I think I will be making these little lovelies quite a bit using what ever veggies and fresh herbs I have to hand. I made half of these rolls with prawns for my OH, JC, and replaced them with oyster mushrooms for me. I think you could put whatever you like in these from mango to chicken or avocado to tofu just remember to use lots of nice fresh herbs and a tasty dipping sauce.I served mine with two dipping sauces but you could just serve with good quality shop bought sweet chilli sauce if you prefered. The hoisin & peanut dipping sauce is not gluten free as most hoisin sauces contain small amounts of wheat. I have therefore included a sweet & sour dipping sauce which is gluten free which is nice but there are no photos of it.